A Wanderer's Eye

North India: Culture & Photography Tour
Nov
12
to Nov 25

North India: Culture & Photography Tour

IMG_3470.jpg

Uncover India through your own lens

North India: Culture and Photography Tour

India Cultural & Photography Tour | Highlights:

  • New Delhi (Jama Masjid Mosque, Humayun’s Tomb, Old Delhi photography walk)
  • Agra (Taj Mahal, “Ghost City” Fatehpur Sikri)
  • Bharatpur (Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary)
  • Jaipur (City Palace, Hawa Mahal, Amber Fort, Anokhi Museum of Block Printing, Bazaars)
  • Bundi & Aravali Range (Palace, Fort, Old Town photography walk)
  • Jojawar (Cooking Class, Bird Watching or Horse Riding, Mountain-railway Train)
  • Drive to Udaipur (Ranakpur Jain Temple, Kumbhalgarh Fort, Chittorghar Citidel)
  • Udaipur (Lake Palace, Museum, Artisan Village)
  • Mumbai (Photography walk in Old Mumbai, Conclusion of tour)

Explore the cultural landscape of India, camera in hand, and be enchanted by her commanding beauty, explosive energy and colorful contradictions, as we not only observe, but connect, with the people, architecture, and culture.

You don't have to be an avid photographer. The camera is your tool, and using the principles of photography, you will refine your vision, delving deeper into the shapes, patterns, fabrics, colors, textures, and faces that make India unique.

To the untrained eye, India can be utter chaos and an overwhelming picture of stark duality. She is a land of fascinating traditions and ancient ways of life completely foreign to many Westerners. Perhaps that’s why she is so damn enticing... 

She is the 5-star luxury converted palace hotel, and the simple thatched mud hut. The shiny shopping mall with bearded hipsters sipping cold brew coffee and the dusty bazaar street and its local chaiwalla. She is the hip yoga studio in Rishikesh and the serene mountain hangout of Manali. She is the beaches, parties, restaurants, whitewashed churches and flashy casino boats of Goa, and Rajasthan’s toppled palace ruins.

1D8A5148-2.jpg

She is modern and ancient, serene and overwhelming, clean and dirty, wise and idiotic, sophisticated and kitsch.

And she’s inviting you now to come on an unforgettable adventure... To see her, experience her, and capture her in your heart and on your camera!

About the Tour

A picture's worth a thousand words. And if you make it yourself, it's a priceless memory. 

On this photography holiday through India you will see the many sides of this beautiful country, her people, art, and culture, all whilst learning how to skillfully capture the sites, moments and scenes that arise and transfix you,

But, before you learn more about what this Cultural & Photography Tour of India is, know what it is not.

It’s not about becoming an expert photographer or even carting a 'proper' camera around on your holiday (your iPhone or smartphone will do just fine if that’s all you have).

It’s not about wide depth of field, shutter speed, composition and exposures (although they’re all things you will learn more about).

Nope, what it’s really about is refining your vision…

It’s about re-training the eye to see beyond the obvious and uncover the fascinating textures and faces of your surroundings.

We explore unfamiliar territory within our travels...and within ourselves.

1D8A1890.jpg
The Photography Tour was just wonderful. Jay certainly enhanced our trip on every level. He generously imparted his knowledge and feedback on our slowly developing photographic skills. After a week or so, I could see my images incorporating some of Jay’s techniques.
— SUE, TEACHER, MELBOURNE

In the expert hands of international photographer and traveler Jay Weinstein, you will be guided on a cultural tour of India's picturesque state of Rajasthan. Whilst learning how to wield a camera with thoughtfulness and technique, you will respectfully interact with the people and places you visit, provoking you to notice details you’d otherwise miss.

With Jay's help, you will begin to see the world through fresh eyes, understanding how to capture the moment with craft (a skill you can use again and again in trips to come!)

You'll learn skills, and practice making beautiful images you'll be proud to display.

Because, let’s be honest, sharing photos from a trip with family and friends, as you regale them with stories and plot twists, can be as much fun as the adventure itself!

1D8A7139.jpg

Your Itinerary

Formerly a click and shoot photographer but now have more knowledge about the composition of an image… I learned a lot from what Jay told me.
— VALERIE, RETIRED, SYDNEY

Day One

Your adventure begins in chaotic Delhi where you’ll be welcomed by your tour guide Jay Weinstein, a Mumbai-based, Hindi and English-speaking photographer of Australian-American heritage who’s been based in India for 25 years (hint: this means he knows his stuff and you’re in safe hands). Here you’ll meet your fellow adventurers who will make up your intimate tour group, before being transferred to your comfortable hotel in South Delhi to rest overnight.

Day Two

Today starts with a rickshaw ride around Old Delhi’s narrow chaotic alleyways. We pay a visit to Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India, followed by Humayun’s tomb, the resting place of Mughal Emperor Humayun built in 1570, and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We then switch it up with a driving tour through New Delhi. Overnight Delhi.

Day Three

Today, we're up early for a drive to Agra where you'll see the exquisitely carved Taj Mahal, described as the most extravagant monument ever built for love. Following this guided tour we stop for lunch before visiting the fascinating ghost city of Fatehpur Sikri, an enchanting ghost city built in 1571 by the Moguls. Overnight Bharatpur.

Day Four

After an early cycle rickshaw ride around the peaceful Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary, we drive to the chaotic pink capital of Rajasthan, Jaipur, stopping en route to visit an ancient step well and temple. We visit the Royal City Palace, one of Jaipur's most famous tourist attractions, and the Hawa Mahal palace constructed of red and pink sandstone in 1799.

Enjoy a guided tour of the magnificent Amber Fort followed by a visit to the inspiring Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing, a small textile museum dedicated to the ancient craft of hand block printing. In the afternoon, we have time to wander through the colourful bazaars, a sure treat for the eyes and your camera.

The hotels were excellent particularly the Heritage Havelis.
— VALERIE, RETIRED, SYDNEY

Day Six

After breakfast drive to Bundi, one of the most laid-back cities in India where you can relax with charming cup of traditional chai. In this captivating town we will explore atmospheric narrow lanes, ornate forts, blue houses, temples, bazaars and palaces.

Day Seven

Immerse yourself in the tranquil ambience of this beautiful town where the friendly locals love to strike up a chat. After our morning guided tour, you can enjoy some free time in the afternoon to practice your photography.

Day Eight

This morning we drive to Chittogarh, best known for its honey tinged fort constructed by the Mauyans in the seventh century, considered the greatest in Rajasthan. Being the citadel of many great Rajput warriors, its history is filled with chivalry and tragedy. After a guided tour and lunch, we drive to Jojawar, a small town in the foothills of the Aravali Range with a romantic past and a delightful heritage hotel.

Day Nine

Today begin with an exciting jeep safari to visit villages of the Rabari people who inhabit much of the western desert of Rajasthan. They are a semi-nomadic people with a strong ethos of protecting the fragile environment that supports them. After lunch, we drive through the hills and board the special mountain-railway train for a wonderful scenic journey through the Aravali Range. Overnight Jojawar.

Day Ten

Take some free time for fun activities like a cooking class, bird watching or horse riding ...and of course, photography!

Day Eleven

En route to Udaipur, we enjoy a stop at the Ranakpur Jain Temple with intricately carved marble interiors and the Kumbhalgarh Fort. From the extensive fortified walls the views extend for miles. Overnight Udaipur.

Day Twelve

While in Udaipur, we will have a guided tour of the majestic City Palace, Jagdish Temple, and the stately Bagore-ki-haveli. We also have free time to explore the narrow crooked lanes of this charming town or the surrounding countryside and villages. Other options include sampling teas in the quaint tea shops or enjoying a nourishing Ayurvedic massage. In the evening, relax with a traditional folk dance performance.

Day Thirteen

We visit the Shilpgram handicrafts village - a living ethnographic museum depicting the lifestyles, architecture and art of the folk and tribal people of the Western states. Late afternoon flight to Mumbai.

Day Fourteen

Experience the chaotic madness of Mumbai with some great sightseeing and time for shopping. We have a final group dinner before departure to the airport.

Meet Your Tour Leader – Jay Weinstein

1D8A5589.jpg

Meet your tour leader - Jay Weinstein

Mumbai based International Photographer

All through the journey, you have the Mumbai-based international photographer, Jay Weinstein by your side, most notorious for approaching random strangers for his photography project so i asked them to smile.

Jay moved to India at age 3 with his parents, both teachers on a search for meaning. Jay spent the next 12 years living in the historic pilgrimage town of Vrindavan, raised by his mother, an artist, and father, a philosopher.

At 15, Jay’s family moved back to Australia for his secondary education. We’ll skim over the part where he moved to LA to be an actor at 21, ended up in advertising and eventually fell into photography and travel. Jay kept thinking he was done with India, yet he returned year after year, finally moving back to Mumbai in 2004 where he’s been based since. His love of sharing India was reignited through his photography, which forced him to explore the country with fresh awareness.

Jay was thoughtful, considerate and a Master of his craft. He could also cope seamlessly with any situation that confronted him ... He is also a very interesting person and enjoyed some of his discussions throughout the trip.
— VALERIE, RETIRED, SYDNEY
“My camera plays a bigger role in my travels now. It forces me to look deeper. It gives me a reason to walk further and discover more.”
IMG_3579.jpg

Today Jay is full time photographer, traveller and tour guide. Being neither Western nor Eastern gives Jay a unique perspective into Indian culture and a talent for translating her quirks for a Western audience, in a way that is nuanced, insightful, and meaningful. In other words, he “helps you make sense of the chaos”, and brings a sense of wonder and joy to the experience with authentic connections with locals and other likeminded travellers.

About Touch of Spirit Tours

Touch of Spirit Tours was birthed in 2006 by Australian accountant Mela Joy, who having travelled off the beaten track, discovered a calling of her own... to share India’s breath-taking beauty and spiritual prowess with other seekers in a safe and authentic way.

Touch of Spirit Tours has now grown to include over 12 tours, spanning north and south of India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Tibet. We’ve thrived because of our glowing reputation from past travellers who’ve journeyed with us through cultural experiences, self-discovery, health and spiritual fulfillment.

Experts across different fields (Nutritionists, Yoga Instructors, Spiritual Healers, Tourism Guides) are employed to make our tours truly unique and *hand-to-heart unforgettable.

You can rest-assured that when you tour with us, you will experience the “real” country - meet local people, taste authentic food, and visit out-of-the-way unknown places as well as the eye-dazzling famous sights.

Limiting our tour group to up to 12 explorers allows us to keep things more personal, tailor the experience, and accommodate to individual requests (like taking you to the perfect spice market or bazaar for that trinket you’ve been looking for).

It also enables us to practice “safe spontaneity” - i.e. Participate in random unplanned activities like festivals, parades and weddings without displacing the itinerary or risking cultural offence. Being in an unfamiliar environment, especially one as unpredictable and foreign as India, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed and be concerned about safety and offending anyone.

How should I deal with a tuk tuk driver and a broken meeter? 
Which traditional foods should I embrace, and which should I avoid?
What's the proper etiquette for a shrine or temple?

Our expert guides arm you with the cultural knowhow, so you can navigate this new territory with cultural sensitively (and feel comfortable to come back again on your own).

Is This Tour Right for Me?

We think everyone has something to take away from this majestic land, but there are many ways to see India and this is just one of them. But, is it right for you?

If you find yourself nodding along to at least 4 of the below points, then chances are this tour was made for you!

  • You’ve always dreamed of visiting India, but feel a tad intimidated by the idea of actually going.
  • You have access to a camera (even the one on your phone) and are willing to use it.
  • You're interested in photography - a complete beginner to intermediate level - and keen to expand your skills and practical knowledge in a stimulating and creative environment conducive to learning and experimenting.
  • You want to travel with sensitivity and an eye to how to avoid potential problems caused by inexperience.
  • You love connecting with likeminded, positive, interesting people from all walks of life.
  • You’re more about intimate connections, giving things time, and being completely present to an experience, rather than large-scale commercial touristy tours (aka hop-on-hop off bus tours).
  • While you’re ready to escape the familiar and experience authentic India, you still want to be comfortable and feel safe under the guidance of an expert who knows India like the back of their hand.
  • On the whole you’re healthy and fit enough to manage on foot with walking tours, hikes, steps, and uneven ground.

What’s Included & Pricing

1D8A1913.jpg
  • 14-day tour of India with expert local guide and facilitator
  • Ongoing step-by-step photography guidance & instruction with international photographer Jay Weinstein: group photography walks, short focused sessions, and one on one coaching
  • India travel tips and resources
  • All land transportation & internal flights
  • All entrance fees and guides through attractions & sites
  • Some meals
  • Comfortable accommodation
  • Memories of a lifetime (captured by you)!

Pricing Options:

  • Twin share: $3,970 US per person
  • Singles (personal room): $4,960 US per person

Upon booking, a deposit is required to secure your place.

Book or Enquire

Need some help, or want to speak to someone?

For bookings and enquiries call 1300 722 932 or email info@touchofspirittours.com.au with Subject: Photography Tour with Jay

Name *
Name
Subject: P Tour with Jay
View Event →
North India: Ashram and Spiritual Tour
Nov
30
to Dec 18

North India: Ashram and Spiritual Tour

1D8A2069.jpg

If India is calling

 

its not a coincidence

North India: Ashram and Spiritual Tour

Ashram and Spiritual Tour Package Highlights:

  • Delhi (Start & End Point)
  • Rishikesh (Ganges, Laxman Jhoola, 7-Day Ashram Program)
  • Varanasi (Ganges, Exploring the old city, Morning Boat ride, ‘Fire Puja’ Ceremony)
  • Sarnath (Buddist Temple, Archaeological Museum)
  • Agra (Taj Mahal, Baby Taj, “Ghost City” Fatehpur Sikri)
  • Vrindavan (Old City Temple Sites, Parikrama Path, Yamuna River)
1D8A1488.jpg

Rich in mystic history and home to some of the most sacred sites on the planet it’s no wonder so many are called to explore and experience India.

By now you’ve scoured pictures of India’s sites and attractions, you've heard its colourful stories, and perhaps you've even honed a yoga and meditation practice, or dabbled in Ayurveda. And while the culture and tradition of India certainly fascinates you, that’s not why your soul is itching to go... 

It’s a spiritual journey you’re seeking...

And, if you’ve landed here, it’s likely that you are one of those souls being called and invited by this sacred land.

...To go deeper, and have a wild adventure… (of the soul)!

Because, by now you’ve realised there’s a lot more to the Universe and life than we've been taught. And, if there’s one thing India knows how to do, it’s teach!

Come learn, come journey and come play in this transformational treasure trove of spiritual riches.

About the Tour

Come to discover India, leave rediscovering youself
20171124_171344.jpg

The North India Ashram & Spiritual Tour is a 17-day trip designed to give you the very experience you’re seeking – a journey of wonderawe and complete aliveness.

For many, India is a stepping stone to better understanding oneself and others, and realising the world is far from black and white (it’s gloriously messy, bright and multicoloured, like confetti in a tornado).

For many westerners, India can at first seem a bizarre and unfamiliar world with myths, symbols and customs that seem downright strange. But, by the end of this enriching spiritual journey it is common to find you have encountered unexpected regions within yourself.

Sure, India will assault your senses and shake up your very existence, but isn’t that why you’re going? To escape the routine and predictable bubble you’ve created, to an unfamiliar place where you can experience shock, exhilaration, and awe…all within the same 5 minutes?

So, if you’re ready to stray from the conventional tourist path (I’m sure you’ll agree the spiritual path is much more fun), unlock the boundaries of your mind, and perhaps pick up a few mysteries of the universe along the way, join us on this spiritual trip to India.

I found the trip online, and was instantly attracted.... I think I may write a book one day on how my visit to India changed my life! ... Having explored many modalities, India was the piece of the jigsaw that was missing.
— Jen, Retired, South Australia
1D8A3341.jpg

Your Itinerary: India Spiritual Tour Package

Day One

20171112_155526.jpg

Your spiritual adventure begins in chaotic Delhi where you’ll be welcomed by your tour guide Jay Weinstein, a Mumbai-based, Hindi and English-speaking photographer of Australian-American heritage who’s been based in India for the last 14 years (hint: this means he knows his stuff and you’re in safe hands). Here you’ll meet up to 11 travel companions who’ll make up your intimate tour group, before being transferred to your comfortable hotel to rest overnight.

“Jay was thoughtful, considerate and a Master of his craft. He could also cope seamlessly with any situation that confronted him… He is also a very interesting person and enjoyed some of his discussions throughout the trip.”
Valerie, Retired, Sydney

Day Two

The sites we saw and the activities we did e.g. aarti, were very special. Also, the accommodation was very good particularly near the national park and in Delhi… seeing the way the religions in India pervade everyday life was inspiring
— Helen, University Lecturer, Newcastle

The adventure begins! We travel to picturesque Rishikesh where you’ll settle into life in an ashram. Here you’ll experience Shiva puja (the ancient Hindu tradition of worship to Lord Siva through the use of mantra, tantra, kriyas, mudras, and abhishekam) followed by Bhajan chanting. We stay in the ashram temple overnight for the first time (exciting).

Day Three

 An evening Ganga aarti unfolds at Triveni Ghat, Rishikesh, as hundreds of pilgrims join in.

An evening Ganga aarti unfolds at Triveni Ghat, Rishikesh, as hundreds of pilgrims join in.

The morning begins with scenic walk along the holy river Ganges, the third largest river in the world by discharge, and one of the most sacred to Hindus. After lunch we take a short drive to Laxman Jhoola to commence a walking tour through Rishikesh, which is sure to inspire you with its radiant beauty. At sunset witness a special prayer ceremony called ‘aarti’ on the banks on the Ganges at Parmath Ghat. Overnight Rishikesh.

Day Four to Ten: India Ashram Tour & Program

The ashram program is yours to explore. Immerse yourself in the world of yogis with a range of ancient healing and spiritual practices including yoga, pranayama (breathing techniques), meditation, meditative walks, mantra and chanting.

We open discussion on Vedic philosophy with practical gems on how to apply this to daily life. Here’s your opportunity to ask all your questions and participate in an intimate sharing of personal insights and experiences among the group. During this stay we also visit Muni-ki-Reti or the “sands of the sages” and experience the aarti at Triveni Ghat. The last day of the program closes with a magical ‘fire ceremony’, before we make our way back to Delhi.

I was so deeply touched at one of our early morning meditations at the Ashram. As I lay with my feet pointing towards Ma Ganga, listening to the river below, the music we were listening to began with the words, “Oh my beloved, I’m coming home, Om Namo Guru Dev Namo.” ... The tears rolled down my face as I realised I really was in India. I really was in an Ashram, and the river really was Mother Ganga. I was home at last.
— Jen, Retired, South Australia

Day Eleven

1D8A1890.jpg

In the morning we soar to what’s known as the beating heart of the Hindu universe. A short flight away from Delhi, Varanasi is one of the world’s oldest cities to be continually-inhabited. The afternoon is yours to wander and play in the narrow alleyways of the old city and get lost in the high energy of this amazing place. At sunset, enjoy a boat ride on the Ganges and experience the beautiful aarti ceremony, honouring ‘Mother Ganga.’ Overnight Varanasi.

Day Twelve

We rise at 6am to witness the early morning Hindu Prayer rituals during a boat ride on the Ganges, and then return to the hotel to replenish with a nourishing breakfast and downtime. Next, we take you on a walking tour of the winding alleyways of Varanasi’s fascinating old city and interesting sites. At sunset, attend the aarti ceremony at the Ghats. Also called ‘Fire Puja’, the ceremony is a dedication to the River Ganges, the Sun, Lord Shiva, Fire and the whole universe. Overnight Varanasi.

20171121_063510.jpg

Day Thirteen

After breakfast we drive to Sarnath, where Buddha gave his very first sermon. Marvel at the ancient stupas, the Buddhist temple and archaeological museum before we fly back to Delhi for overnight stay.

Day Fourteen

Today we have an early drive to Agra for a guided tour of the world-famous and breathtaking jewelled Taj Mahal, described as the most extravagant monument ever built in the name of love. We also visit the colourfully decorated ‘Baby Taj’ and Fatehpur Sikri, an enchanting ghost city built in 1571 by the Moguls, before a short drive to Bharatpur for overnight.

Day Fifteen

We take a fun early cycle rickshaw ride around the peaceful Keoladeo Ghana National Park, a UNESCO-listed bird sanctuary home to approximately 380 bird species from across the globe. After a leisurely breakfast, we drive to Vrindavan, land of Lord Krishna, to explore some of the temples and sites including the very interesting old city and a walk around the Parikrama Path. Overnight Vrindavan.

Day Sixteen

It’s almost over. We spend the morning in Vrindavan before driving back to Delhi for a final group dinner with fellow travellers who by now you’ll no doubt call friends. It’s your final evening on the tour, but not the last you’ve seen of India (we hope).

Day Seventeen

After breakfast, we exchange goodbyes and contact details. You have the option to transfer to the airport for flights back home or spend the day at your leisure.

We hope to leave you inspired, delighted, wiser, and forever changed. More in tune with yourself and with life.

I have returned even more passionate about my own Spiritual Practice, and more passionate about encouraging older citizens to take responsibility for their own health, and to not end their time on this earth with their music still inside them.
— Jen, Retired, South Australia

Meet Your Tour Leader – Jay Weinstein

1D8A5589.jpg

Meet Your Tour Leader – Jay Weinstein

Mumbai-based International Photographer

All through the journey, you have the Mumbai-based international photographer, Jay Weinstein by your side. Jay moved to India at age 3 with his parents, both teachers on a search for meaning. Jay spent the next 12 years living in an ashram environment in Vrindavan, a historic town filled with temples and cheeky monkeys, two hours south of Delhi.

One does not grow up in the pilgrimage centre of India without learning a thing or two about spiritual principles and teachings. Raised by a philosopher (father) and artist (mother) with ten years of education on traditions, scriptures, art and culture, Jay is no stranger to India’s spiritual history and wisdom.

At 15, Jay’s family moved back to Australia for his secondary education. We’ll skim over the part where he moved to LA to be an actor at 21, ended up in advertising and eventually fell into photography and travel. Jay kept thinking he was done with India, yet he returned, year after year, finally moving to Mumbai in 2004 where he’s been based since. His love of sharing India was reignited through his photography, which forced him to explore the country with fresh awareness.

Jay is a major asset to the tour. His Hindi I’m sure opened many opportunities for us. He was very knowledgeable about India and even took us to a wedding, which was an unexpected treat.
— Helen, University Lecturer, Newcastle

Today Jay is full time photographer, traveller and tour guide. Being neither Western nor Eastern gives Jay a unique perspective into Indian culture and a talent for translating her quirks for a Western audience, in a way that is nuanced, insightful, and meaningful. In other words, he “helps you make sense of the chaos”, and brings a sense of wonder and joy to the experience with authentic connections with locals and other likeminded travellers.

20171125_164742.jpg
Jay is a fantastic guide and human being. He is an amazing blend of Indian and Western, so his knowledge of the culture, nuances, and language mean you can, albeit briefly, immerse yourself in a beautiful country and its people, in a way you would otherwise not be able to. He joins so beautifully with the locals and shares their and our experiences so that you really feel you can connect with the country, which I truly believe is unique to who Jay is as a person.
— Francesca, Mental Health Professional, Melbourne
Jay’s Cultural and Spiritual knowledge of India brought the trip alive for us all. His fluent Hindi got us out of more scrapes than I’m sure we ever knew about. Obviously a very experienced traveller... If we were to book another Tour, I’m sure Judi would agree, we either have Jay as our Tour Leader or we find another Tour that he is leading!
— Jen, Retired, South Australia
“Jay certainly enhanced our trip on every level. Another bonus was the lovely friendship I developed…Right now I am thinking about India again for 2018.”
Sue, Teacher, Melbourne

About Touch of Spirit Tours

Touch of Spirit Tours was birthed in 2006 by Australian accountant Mela Joy, who having travelled off the beaten track, discovered a calling of her own... to share India’s breath-taking beauty and spiritual prowess with other seekers in a safe and authentic way.

We have now grown to include over 12 tours, spanning North and South India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Tibet. We’ve thrived because of our glowing reputation from past travelers who’ve journeyed with us through cultural experiences, self-discovery, health and spiritual fulfillment.

Experts across different fields (Nutritionists, Yoga Instructors, Spiritual Healers, Tourism Guides) are employed to make our tours truly unique and *hand-to-heart unforgettable.

You can rest-assured that when you tour with us, you will experience the “real” country - meet local people, taste authentic food, and visit out-of-the-way unknown places as well as the eye-dazzling famous sights.

Limiting our tour group to up to 12 explorers allows us to keep things more personal, tailor the experience, and accommodate to individual requests (like taking you to the perfect spice market or bazaar for that trinket you’ve been looking for).

There are so many highlights of the tour but it was in the experience itself, for example, while waiting for a delayed train we were invited into a wedding celebration, or chatting with the locals through our very handy Hindi interpreter and tour guide, Jay.
— Francesca, Mental Health Professional, Melbourne

It also enables us to practice “safe spontaneity” - i.e. Participate in random unplanned activities like festivals, parades and weddings without displacing the itinerary or risking cultural offence. Being in an unfamiliar environment, especially one as unpredictable and foreign as India, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed and be concerned about safety and offending anyone.

How should I deal with a tuk tuk driver and a broken meter?
Which traditional foods should I embrace, and which should I avoid?
What's the proper etiquette for a shrine or temple?

Our expert guides arm you with the cultural knowhow, so you can navigate this new territory with cultural sensitively (and feel comfortable to come back again on your own).

Is This Tour Right for Me?

We think everyone has something to take away from this majestic land, but there are many ways to see India and this is just one of them. But, is it right for you?

If you find yourself nodding along to at least 5 of the below points, then chances are this tour was made for you!

1D8A7710.jpg
We were only a small group and I think the interest in Yoga connected us all immediately... A few of us have kept up that connection on a regular basis, which is so very special. I suspect we shall all meet up again one day – and it gives me so much pleasure to have met so many young people on this trip.
— Jen, Retired, South Australia
  • You’re not just looking for “a trip to India”. You want to have a deeper experience. And, while you’ve always dreamed of visiting India, you feel a tad intimidated by the idea of actually going.
  • You’re more about intimate connections, giving things time, and being completely present to an experience, rather than large-scale commercial touristy tours (aka hop-on-hop off bus tours).
  • You’re in (or nearing) retirement, the kids are grown up, and it's time set off on your next adventure - giving back to yourself!
  • You're a working professional who wants to escape the daily grind and immerse yourself and a completely different (and deeply nourishing) environment.
  • You have a growing spiritual curiosity and enjoy pastimes like yoga, meditation, chanting, breathing, and reading….but you’re feeling a pull to go deeper and dedicate more time and awareness to these practices.
  • You’re seeking an authentic ashram experience with expert facilitators to help you tap into that inner knowing.
  • You’re feeling a little bored with the familiar and want to reawaken and challenge your senses and thought patterns.
  • You love a good esoteric chat about life, the universe, and what’s beyond … without taking yourself too seriously. You can’t help it, you’re a deep thinker, but by no means does that mean you don’t like to have fun and laugh and keep it light.... Also, you love connecting with like-minded, positive, interesting people from all walks of life, who are exploring and asking the same questions.
  • While you’re ready to escape the familiar and experience authentic India, you still want to be comfortable and feel safe under the guidance of a highly knowledgeable and exceptional tour guide (you don’t want to deal with all the logistics and planning of transportation, entry fees, where to eat, finding an authentic ashram, etc).
  • On the whole you’re healthy and fit enough to manage on foot with walking tours, hikes, steps, and uneven ground.

Sound good? Hurrah! Let’s move on.

What’s Included & Pricing

 The sun rises over the Ganges River in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.

The sun rises over the Ganges River in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.

  • 17-day tour with expert local guide and facilitator
  • India travel tips and resources
  • 7-day Ashram program
  • All land transportation & internal flights
  • All entrance fees and guides through attractions & sites
  • Most meals
  • Comfortable accommodation
  • Memories of a lifetime!

Pricing Options:

  • Twin share: $2,990 US per person
  • Singles (personal room in ashram): $3,510 US per person

Upon booking, a deposit is required to secure your place.

Book or Enquire

Need some help, or want to speak to someone?

For bookings and enquiries call 1300 722 932 or email info@touchofspirittours.com.au with Subject: Spiritual Tour with Jay.

Name *
Name
Phone
Phone
What would you like to know more about? :)
View Event →
North India: Culture & Photography Tour
Feb
4
to Feb 17

North India: Culture & Photography Tour

IMG_3470.jpg

Uncover India through your own lens

North India: Culture and Photography Tour

India Cultural & Photography Tour | Highlights:

  • New Delhi (Jama Masjid Mosque, Humayun’s Tomb, Old Delhi photography walk)
  • Agra (Taj Mahal, “Ghost City” Fatehpur Sikri)
  • Bharatpur (Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary)
  • Jaipur (City Palace, Hawa Mahal, Amber Fort, Anokhi Museum of Block Printing, Bazaars)
  • Bundi & Aravali Range (Palace, Fort, Old Town photography walk)
  • Jojawar (Cooking Class, Bird Watching or Horse Riding, Mountain-railway Train)
  • Drive to Udaipur (Ranakpur Jain Temple, Kumbhalgarh Fort, Chittorghar Citidel)
  • Udaipur (Lake Palace, Museum, Artisan Village)
  • Mumbai (Photography walk in Old Mumbai, Conclusion of tour)

Explore the cultural landscape of India, camera in hand, and be enchanted by her commanding beauty, explosive energy and colorful contradictions, as we not only observe, but connect, with the people, architecture, and culture.

You don't have to be an avid photographer. The camera is your tool, and using the principles of photography, you will refine your vision, delving deeper into the shapes, patterns, fabrics, colors, textures, and faces that make India unique.

To the untrained eye, India can be utter chaos and an overwhelming picture of stark duality. She is a land of fascinating traditions and ancient ways of life completely foreign to many Westerners. Perhaps that’s why she is so damn enticing... 

She is the 5-star luxury converted palace hotel, and the simple thatched mud hut. The shiny shopping mall with bearded hipsters sipping cold brew coffee and the dusty bazaar street and its local chaiwalla. She is the hip yoga studio in Rishikesh and the serene mountain hangout of Manali. She is the beaches, parties, restaurants, whitewashed churches and flashy casino boats of Goa, and Rajasthan’s toppled palace ruins.

1D8A5148-2.jpg

She is modern and ancient, serene and overwhelming, clean and dirty, wise and idiotic, sophisticated and kitsch.

And she’s inviting you now to come on an unforgettable adventure... To see her, experience her, and capture her in your heart and on your camera!

About the Tour

A picture's worth a thousand words. And if you make it yourself, it's a priceless memory. 

On this photography holiday through India you will see the many sides of this beautiful country, her people, art, and culture, all whilst learning how to skillfully capture the sites, moments and scenes that arise and transfix you,

But, before you learn more about what this Cultural & Photography Tour of India is, know what it is not.

It’s not about becoming an expert photographer or even carting a 'proper' camera around on your holiday (your iPhone or smartphone will do just fine if that’s all you have).

It’s not about wide depth of field, shutter speed, composition and exposures (although they’re all things you will learn more about).

Nope, what it’s really about is refining your vision…

It’s about re-training the eye to see beyond the obvious and uncover the fascinating textures and faces of your surroundings.

We explore unfamiliar territory within our travels...and within ourselves.

The Photography Tour was just wonderful. Jay certainly enhanced our trip on every level. He generously imparted his knowledge and feedback on our slowly developing photographic skills. After a week or so, I could see my images incorporating some of Jay’s techniques.
— SUE, TEACHER, MELBOURNE

In the expert hands of international photographer and traveler Jay Weinstein, you will be guided on a cultural tour of India's picturesque state of Rajasthan. Whilst learning how to wield a camera with thoughtfulness and technique, you will respectfully interact with the people and places you visit, provoking you to notice details you’d otherwise miss.

With Jay's help, you will begin to see the world through fresh eyes, understanding how to capture the moment with craft (a skill you can use again and again in trips to come!)

You'll learn skills, and practice making beautiful images you'll be proud to display.

Because, let’s be honest, sharing photos from a trip with family and friends, as you regale them with stories and plot twists, can be as much fun as the adventure itself!

1D8A7139.jpg

Your Itinerary

Formerly a click and shoot photographer but now have more knowledge about the composition of an image… I learned a lot from what Jay told me.
— VALERIE, RETIRED, SYDNEY

Day One

Your adventure begins in chaotic Delhi where you’ll be welcomed by your tour guide Jay Weinstein, a Mumbai-based, Hindi and English-speaking photographer of Australian-American heritage who’s been based in India for 25 years (hint: this means he knows his stuff and you’re in safe hands). Here you’ll meet your fellow adventurers who will make up your intimate tour group, before being transferred to your comfortable hotel in South Delhi to rest overnight.

Day Two

Today starts with a rickshaw ride around Old Delhi’s narrow chaotic alleyways. We pay a visit to Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India, followed by Humayun’s tomb, the resting place of Mughal Emperor Humayun built in 1570, and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We then switch it up with a driving tour through New Delhi. Overnight Delhi.

Day Three

Today, we're up early for a drive to Agra where you'll see the exquisitely carved Taj Mahal, described as the most extravagant monument ever built for love. Following this guided tour we stop for lunch before visiting the fascinating ghost city of Fatehpur Sikri, an enchanting ghost city built in 1571 by the Moguls. Overnight Bharatpur.

Day Four

After an early cycle rickshaw ride around the peaceful Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary, we drive to the chaotic pink capital of Rajasthan, Jaipur, stopping en route to visit an ancient step well and temple. We visit the Royal City Palace, one of Jaipur's most famous tourist attractions, and the Hawa Mahal palace constructed of red and pink sandstone in 1799.

Enjoy a guided tour of the magnificent Amber Fort followed by a visit to the inspiring Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing, a small textile museum dedicated to the ancient craft of hand block printing. In the afternoon, we have time to wander through the colourful bazaars, a sure treat for the eyes and your camera.

The hotels were excellent particularly the Heritage Havelis.
— VALERIE, RETIRED, SYDNEY

Day Six

After breakfast drive to Bundi, one of the most laid-back cities in India where you can relax with charming cup of traditional chai. In this captivating town we will explore atmospheric narrow lanes, ornate forts, blue houses, temples, bazaars and palaces.

Day Seven

Immerse yourself in the tranquil ambience of this beautiful town where the friendly locals love to strike up a chat. After our morning guided tour, you can enjoy some free time in the afternoon to practice your photography.

Day Eight

This morning we drive to Chittogarh, best known for its honey tinged fort constructed by the Mauyans in the seventh century, considered the greatest in Rajasthan. Being the citadel of many great Rajput warriors, its history is filled with chivalry and tragedy. After a guided tour and lunch, we drive to Jojawar, a small town in the foothills of the Aravali Range with a romantic past and a delightful heritage hotel.

Day Nine

Today begin with an exciting jeep safari to visit villages of the Rabari people who inhabit much of the western desert of Rajasthan. They are a semi-nomadic people with a strong ethos of protecting the fragile environment that supports them. After lunch, we drive through the hills and board the special mountain-railway train for a wonderful scenic journey through the Aravali Range. Overnight Jojawar.

Day Ten

Take some free time for fun activities like a cooking class, bird watching or horse riding ...and of course, photography!

Day Eleven

En route to Udaipur, we enjoy a stop at the Ranakpur Jain Temple with intricately carved marble interiors and the Kumbhalgarh Fort. From the extensive fortified walls the views extend for miles. Overnight Udaipur.

Day Twelve

While in Udaipur, we will have a guided tour of the majestic City Palace, Jagdish Temple, and the stately Bagore-ki-haveli. We also have free time to explore the narrow crooked lanes of this charming town or the surrounding countryside and villages. Other options include sampling teas in the quaint tea shops or enjoying a nourishing Ayurvedic massage. In the evening, relax with a traditional folk dance performance.

Day Thirteen

We visit the Shilpgram handicrafts village - a living ethnographic museum depicting the lifestyles, architecture and art of the folk and tribal people of the Western states. Late afternoon flight to Mumbai.

Day Fourteen

Experience the chaotic madness of Mumbai with some great sightseeing and time for shopping. We have a final group dinner before departure to the airport.

Meet Your Tour Leader – Jay Weinstein

1D8A5589.jpg

Meet your tour leader - Jay Weinstein

Mumbai based International Photographer

All through the journey, you have the Mumbai-based international photographer, Jay Weinstein by your side, most notorious for approaching random strangers for his photography project so i asked them to smile.

Jay moved to India at age 3 with his parents, both teachers on a search for meaning. Jay spent the next 12 years living in the historic pilgrimage town of Vrindavan, raised by his mother, an artist, and father, a philosopher.

At 15, Jay’s family moved back to Australia for his secondary education. We’ll skim over the part where he moved to LA to be an actor at 21, ended up in advertising and eventually fell into photography and travel. Jay kept thinking he was done with India, yet he returned year after year, finally moving back to Mumbai in 2004 where he’s been based since. His love of sharing India was reignited through his photography, which forced him to explore the country with fresh awareness.

Jay was thoughtful, considerate and a Master of his craft. He could also cope seamlessly with any situation that confronted him ... He is also a very interesting person and enjoyed some of his discussions throughout the trip.
— VALERIE, RETIRED, SYDNEY
“My camera plays a bigger role in my travels now. It forces me to look deeper. It gives me a reason to walk further and discover more.”
IMG_3579.jpg

Today Jay is full time photographer, traveller and tour guide. Being neither Western nor Eastern gives Jay a unique perspective into Indian culture and a talent for translating her quirks for a Western audience, in a way that is nuanced, insightful, and meaningful. In other words, he “helps you make sense of the chaos”, and brings a sense of wonder and joy to the experience with authentic connections with locals and other likeminded travellers.

About Touch of Spirit Tours

Touch of Spirit Tours was birthed in 2006 by Australian accountant Mela Joy, who having travelled off the beaten track, discovered a calling of her own... to share India’s breath-taking beauty and spiritual prowess with other seekers in a safe and authentic way.

Touch of Spirit Tours has now grown to include over 12 tours, spanning north and south of India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Tibet. We’ve thrived because of our glowing reputation from past travellers who’ve journeyed with us through cultural experiences, self-discovery, health and spiritual fulfillment.

Experts across different fields (Nutritionists, Yoga Instructors, Spiritual Healers, Tourism Guides) are employed to make our tours truly unique and *hand-to-heart unforgettable.

You can rest-assured that when you tour with us, you will experience the “real” country - meet local people, taste authentic food, and visit out-of-the-way unknown places as well as the eye-dazzling famous sights.

Limiting our tour group to up to 12 explorers allows us to keep things more personal, tailor the experience, and accommodate to individual requests (like taking you to the perfect spice market or bazaar for that trinket you’ve been looking for).

It also enables us to practice “safe spontaneity” - i.e. Participate in random unplanned activities like festivals, parades and weddings without displacing the itinerary or risking cultural offence. Being in an unfamiliar environment, especially one as unpredictable and foreign as India, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed and be concerned about safety and offending anyone.

How should I deal with a tuk tuk driver and a broken meeter? 
Which traditional foods should I embrace, and which should I avoid?
What's the proper etiquette for a shrine or temple?

Our expert guides arm you with the cultural knowhow, so you can navigate this new territory with cultural sensitively (and feel comfortable to come back again on your own).

Is This Tour Right for Me?

We think everyone has something to take away from this majestic land, but there are many ways to see India and this is just one of them. But, is it right for you?

If you find yourself nodding along to at least 4 of the below points, then chances are this tour was made for you!

  • You’ve always dreamed of visiting India, but feel a tad intimidated by the idea of actually going.
  • You have access to a camera (even the one on your phone) and are willing to use it.
  • You're interested in photography - a complete beginner to intermediate level - and keen to expand your skills and practical knowledge in a stimulating and creative environment conducive to learning and experimenting.
  • You want to travel with sensitivity and an eye to how to avoid potential problems caused by inexperience.
  • You love connecting with likeminded, positive, interesting people from all walks of life.
  • You’re more about intimate connections, giving things time, and being completely present to an experience, rather than large-scale commercial touristy tours (aka hop-on-hop off bus tours).
  • While you’re ready to escape the familiar and experience authentic India, you still want to be comfortable and feel safe under the guidance of an expert who knows India like the back of their hand.
  • On the whole you’re healthy and fit enough to manage on foot with walking tours, hikes, steps, and uneven ground.

What’s Included & Pricing

1D8A1913.jpg
  • 14-day tour of India with expert local guide and facilitator
  • Ongoing step-by-step photography guidance & instruction with international photographer Jay Weinstein: group photography walks, short focused sessions, and one on one coaching
  • India travel tips and resources
  • All land transportation & internal flights
  • All entrance fees and guides through attractions & sites
  • Some meals
  • Comfortable accommodation
  • Memories of a lifetime (captured by you)!

Pricing Options:

  • Twin share: $3,970 US per person
  • Singles (personal room): $4,960 US per person

Upon booking, a deposit is required to secure your place.

Book or Enquire

Need some help, or want to speak to someone?

For bookings and enquiries call 1300 722 932 or email info@touchofspirittours.com.au with Subject: Photography Tour with Jay

View Event →